Les Tonks Sidestep

Bradford Bulls / HMRC / Administration

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Except they have not.  The club has just gone down with a terminal case of "dead".

 

I think you need to separate the club from the company.

 

What's 'dead' is Bradford Bulls Northern Limited.

 

The club can and should carry on, albeit in new ownership.

 

What I think is important is that we somehow find a way to legally separate the entity of a Rugby League club from the company that happens to own it at any point in time, so that if a company is heading for the financial rocks the club can be removed and given to someone else without the crazy procedure we have seen over the last few months.

 

That's a complicated thing to achieve, but it's something we need to do because the Bradford case is just one in a series of potential financial disasters that could decimate professional Rugby League.

 

In the last few months we have had the Rugby League clubs representing three of the largest cities in Yorkshire all threatening to go out of business because of ownership problems.

 

Even if the Bulls can be saved, they will start the season with a massive disadvantage compared to the other clubs, which then skews the competition.

 

It just isn't good enough to carry on like this and we have to find an alternative model.

 

The fact that the company isn't the same thing as the club is recognised by Richard Lamb, for example, who I was talking to earlier.

 

He made it clear that he would respect the season ticket purchases of Bulls supporters if he is able to do a deal with the RFL, although he is waiting to see what sort of guarantees the RFL is looking for.

 

It's a great shame, with hindsight, that the company wasn't put straight into liquidation on 14 November.

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That's not what Giantstrides is saying, rather the lease is surrendered to the council which suggests that the arrangement is a license only (to lease the ground) , which is contrary to everything else discussed about the commercial benefits and value of what is owned by the RFL.

If the RFL has paid in excess of £1million for something that only retains its worth or ownership if there's a team it, heads would well and truly roll.

 

 I could well be wrong but i am sure i have read on this thread somewhere that , Odsal is owned by the Council, the RFL own the lease providing that League is played there ( or at least it can not be used for any other purpose ) so as has been stated, either someone plays there and maintains it or the RFL maintains it , or gives up the lease and the council sell it.

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That's 3 options. Whoever owns the lease (the RFL) has the obligation to repair and maintain it, if they don't then there may well be a surrender clause as they would not be fulfilling the contract with the owner (the council).

The RFL however will sublet their obligation to the tenant (the club) but given the option of stepping in to pay the repairs (put on here at circa £70,000) or give up an unexpired lease of 150 years, worth millions, what do you think they'll do?

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Bradford should begin their new existence in Championship 1

They aren't essential to Rugby Leagues healthy future, I don't get all this fawning over them one bit.

They were an average club with average attendances and a less than average history of success.

They then built a team that dominated the early SL era using money they didn't have and ideas they stole from Keighley, for a while they rose above their mediocre status.

When they returned to type, they refused to accept that the ride was over and continued to act and spend like a big club, digging an ever deeper hole for themselves.

The RFL have treated Bradford differently to any other club that's had financial issues, arguing that Odsal was "iconic" in an attempt to justify the £1.25 Million they had used to save the Bulls. The double standards used when telling Wakefield that they'd be relegated the Championship 1 if they entered Administration while, during the very same season, making no such threat to Bradford.

I am so sorry for the genuine Bradford fans, the staff and the players but I cannot buy into the sentimental ###### being spewed by the media about the Bulls being essential to Super League.

Good Luck to all those who are part of running and supporting a new Bradford Rugby League Club, let's hope your new incarnation is built on solid foundations.

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Bradford should begin their new existence in Championship 1

They aren't essential to Rugby Leagues healthy future, I don't get all this fawning over them one bit.

They were an average club with average attendances and a less than average history of success.

They then built a team that dominated the early SL era using money they didn't have and ideas they stole from Keighley, for a while they rose above their mediocre status.

When they returned to type, they refused to accept that the ride was over and continued to act and spend like a big club, digging an ever deeper hole for themselves.

The RFL have treated Bradford differently to any other club that's had financial issues, arguing that Odsal was "iconic" in an attempt to justify the £1.25 Million they had used to save the Bulls. The double standards used when telling Wakefield that they'd be relegated the Championship 1 if they entered Administration while, during the very same season, making no such threat to Bradford.

I am so sorry for the genuine Bradford fans, the staff and the players but I cannot buy into the sentimental ###### being spewed by the media about the Bulls being essential to Super League.

Good Luck to all those who are part of running and supporting a new Bradford Rugby League Club, let's hope your new incarnation is built on solid foundations.

Losing the only club in rugby league's second biggest city definitely has no impact on rugby league...

The same club that has provided many internationals and was capable of attracting over 15,000 spectators when they were successful only 10-15 years ago. The same club that was half of one of the two biggest fixtures in the game (Bradford v Leeds, Wigan v St Helens).

Bradford Bulls, run correctly and capable of competing, are one of the 5 biggest teams in the country.

10 a penny those sort of clubs.

Are Bradford Bulls essential to rugby league's survival? No. But rugby league long term (decent owner) is a damaged from what it could be without them.

Edited by kapow

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Instead of starting Bradford in the Championship why not go the whole hog and just put them back in SL because according to some on here they are a special club who deserve special treatment.

 

If the club starts again in the Championship then they would have lost the small amount of respect I had for them.  The RFL should look after all clubs equally and the Oldham fan is spot on, I can't remember Oldham Bears given any help and the new clubs never recovered,

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Instead of starting Bradford in the Championship why not go the whole hog and just put them back in SL because according to some on here they are a special club who deserve special treatment.

If the club starts again in the Championship then they would have lost the small amount of respect I had for them. The RFL should look after all clubs equally and the Oldham fan is spot on, I can't remember Oldham Bears given any help and the new clubs never recovered,

Almost no one has said Bradford deserve special treatment. Plenty, including Bulls fans, have said they should start in C1. In fact, plenty of Bulls fans have said that not only should they start in C1 but it would actually be preferable.

Stop making things up.

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Even if the Bulls can be saved, they will start the season with a massive disadvantage compared to the other clubs, which then skews the competition.

 

It just isn't good enough to carry on like this and we have to find an alternative model.

 

Haven't the bulls skewed the competition the last few years by running a full time team that they couldn't afford?

 

Can't remember you crying out for an alternative model when clubs like Keighley were hit with a points deduction.

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That's 3 options. Whoever owns the lease (the RFL) has the obligation to repair and maintain it, if they don't then there may well be a surrender clause as they would not be fulfilling the contract with the owner (the council).

The RFL however will sublet their obligation to the tenant (the club) but given the option of stepping in to pay the repairs (put on here at circa £70,000) or give up an unexpired lease of 150 years, worth millions, what do you think they'll do?

 

How is it worth millions to the RFL, they can only use it for League, which as i stated at the start , they need a team to put in there who can afford to pay the maintainance, or it falls to them to pay.

 

The only people it's worth millions too are the Council, who are the only ones who are ever going to be able to sell it, As far as i can see the only way the RFL can get anything from Odsal is from a league club paying rent before it busts them again.

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The RFL can't just add an extra spot in League 1 for Bradford at 4 weeks notice. It's just not possible.

When people are saying that they shouldn't be allowed to enter the Championship, then there are only two options left: swap them with another League 1 club to make room for them, or wait until 2018 and play with 11 in the Championship.

The former requires a club to volunteer to step up (something that no League 1 club has made any sounds about doing throughout this whole fiasco) so is unlikely.

The latter will ruin the fixture list for the Championship as the Blackpool Summer Bash cannot work with an odd number of teams so (unless they add an extra fixture to the season) they'd have to cancel the event or change it to a Nines event.

One of the League 1 clubs stepping up would be the preferred option for all, but who's going to want to? Toronto definitely can't. It's a logistical nightmare at this stage.

Only Worky, Haven or Barrow should be offered, and I doubt any would want to at short notice.

Oh dear.

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Rugby League can afford to lose Oldham, it can't afford to lose Bradford. I'm sorry that that's the case, I wish it wasn't. I wish all clubs were equally important but they aren't. That's reality.

Bradford Bulls in the Super League are 10,000+ crowds and the potential to really compete at the top (if they stop being owned by idiots). Oldham, Keighley, Dewsbury and any others of the like are never going to be that.

Again... I wish it wasn't the case but it is the reality.

Edit - I wish no ill harm to any of the clubs I mentioned. I wish them all the best.

Apologies, this came over as Bradford being special compared to other clubs.  God knows how I could have made that mistake.

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Will people stop coming up with the fallacy that Bulls fans think we deserve 'special treatment'?

 

It's bad enough losing a club that (in my case) you've supported man and boy for almost 50 years without people making stuff up that isn't true.

 

For the avoidance of doubt, I - along with almost every person I've seen on social media and forums today - would prefer that we started in Championship 1.

 

Please address your bile to the people who have insisted we start in the Championship - namely, the RFL

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Apologies, this came over as Bradford being special compared to other clubs. God knows how I could have made that mistake.

I was stating that not all clubs are equal. They aren't. That's just reality.

I've not seen anyone claiming they should be kept in the Championship simply because they are Bradford, only because - well what's the alternative? No C1 club will want it and you can't have a season with 11 clubs.

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Losing the only club in rugby league's second biggest city definitely has no impact on rugby league...

The same club that has provided many internationals and was capable of attracting over 15,000 spectators when they were successful only 10-15 years ago. The same club that was half of one of the two biggest fixtures in the game (Bradford v Leeds, Wigan v St Helens).

Bradford Bulls, run correctly and capable of competing, are one of the 5 biggest teams in the country.

10 a penny those sort of clubs.

Are Bradford Bulls essential to rugby league's survival? No. But rugby league long term (decent owner) is a damaged from what it could be without them.

the same club that went bust in the 1960s?

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How is it worth millions to the RFL, they can only use it for League, which as i stated at the start , they need a team to put in there who can afford to pay the maintainance, or it falls to them to pay.

The only people it's worth millions too are the Council, who are the only ones who are ever going to be able to sell it, As far as i can see the only way the RFL can get anything from Odsal is from a league club paying rent before it busts them again.

No, they can sell the lease back to the council for redevelopment of the land and surrounding area. If there is no club then there is no need for the stadium in itself

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I was stating that not all clubs are equal. They aren't. That's just reality.

I've not seen anyone claiming they should be kept in the Championship simply because they are Bradford, only because - well what's the alternative? No C1 club will want it and you can't have a season with 11 clubs.

And my point is all clubs should be equal.  It would be interesting to see if another team like Dewsbury were liquidated whether they would be allowed to stay in the Championship so easy.

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Will people stop coming up with the fallacy that Bulls fans think we deserve 'special treatment'?

It's bad enough losing a club that (in my case) you've supported man and boy for almost 50 years without people making stuff up that isn't true.

For the avoidance of doubt, I - along with almost every person I've seen on social media and forums today - would prefer that we started in Championship 1.

Please address your bile to the people who have insisted we start in the Championship - namely, the RFL

Starting in C1 would absolutely be my preference too. I can't see any way that the Bulls can benefit from being in the Championship with a makeshift squad, a 12 point deduction and being hammered every week. Any fans not already fed up will be gone after ten matches. All it is going to do delay any recovery by a year or two.

Much better to be in C1 and have a reasonable season that we can build from.

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How is it worth millions to the RFL, they can only use it for League, which as i stated at the start , they need a team to put in there who can afford to pay the maintainance, or it falls to them to pay.

The only people it's worth millions too are the Council, who are the only ones who are ever going to be able to sell it, As far as i can see the only way the RFL can get anything from Odsal is from a league club paying rent before it busts them again.

A new "clause" - where did the only playing RL but come from?

They could use it for growing turnips providing they're complying with the terms of the contracts.

They paid over £1 million to a club in distress (the Bulls) who were in no position to demand more in the eye of predators circling who were only in it to get hold of Odsal. All the reports at the time point to the RFL doing the deal to protect the ground. The inference is still that the RFL got a good deal.

It is suggested that the RFL could it turn make money flogging it at a profit.

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And my point is all clubs should be equal. It would be interesting to see if another team like Dewsbury were liquidated whether they would be allowed to stay in the Championship so easy.

What's your alternative? Start Bulls in C1 this season or sit them out a season?

Either way you cause problems for all the other clubs. Put them in C1 and you either have an 11 team Championship and a 13 team C1, or you have to promote a C1 club who hasn't budgeted for the Championship and will get walloped every match. Or you hold the Bulls out for a year - you still have an 11 team Championship.

Go on... tell us your masterplan solution.

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How anyone can genuinely think the Bulls are going to benefit from being in the Championship with whatever players they can cobble together and with a 12 point deduction is beyond me. Relegation is certain.

The RFL are giving them a bigger punishment than relegating them now, as they are going to have to suffer a year of being hammered most games and then relegation.

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I think you need to separate the club from the company.

 

What's 'dead' is Bradford Bulls Northern Limited.

 

The club can and should carry on, albeit in new ownership.

 

 

You mean like franchising.

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Will people stop coming up with the fallacy that Bulls fans think we deserve 'special treatment'?

 

It's bad enough losing a club that (in my case) you've supported man and boy for almost 50 years without people making stuff up that isn't true.

 

For the avoidance of doubt, I - along with almost every person I've seen on social media and forums today - would prefer that we started in Championship 1.

 

Please address your bile to the people who have insisted we start in the Championship - namely, the RFL

 

Completely agree with this.

 

By forcing a new Bradford club to start in the Championship, with barely a month's preparation, the minimum amount of central funding, a twelve point deduction and the prospect of propping up the league while enduring repeated floggings from most of the clubs above them all season, the RFL will, in my view, be dooming it to fail (again) before it begins.

 

As a proud Bradfordian (there are a few of us) I'd rather Bradford had no club this year, if a League 1 start is not possible for whatever reason, than be expected to pay good money to watch that mess unfold. There's only so much humiliation anyone can stand.

 

If this is what some fans of other clubs regard as 'special treatment', I can only hope your own club is never in a position to have to receive similar 'special treatment' from the RFL!

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I think you need to separate the club from the company.

 

What's 'dead' is Bradford Bulls Northern Limited.

 

The club can and should carry on, albeit in new ownership.

 

What I think is important is that we somehow find a way to legally separate the entity of a Rugby League club from the company that happens to own it at any point in time, so that if a company is heading for the financial rocks the club can be removed and given to someone else without the crazy procedure we have seen over the last few months.

 

That's a complicated thing to achieve, but it's something we need to do because the Bradford case is just one in a series of potential financial disasters that could decimate professional Rugby League.

 

In the last few months we have had the Rugby League clubs representing three of the largest cities in Yorkshire all threatening to go out of business because of ownership problems.

 

Even if the Bulls can be saved, they will start the season with a massive disadvantage compared to the other clubs, which then skews the competition.

 

It just isn't good enough to carry on like this and we have to find an alternative model.

 

The fact that the company isn't the same thing as the club is recognised by Richard Lamb, for example, who I was talking to earlier.

 

He made it clear that he would respect the season ticket purchases of Bulls supporters if he is able to do a deal with the RFL, although he is waiting to see what sort of guarantees the RFL is looking for.

 

It's a great shame, with hindsight, that the company wasn't put straight into liquidation on 14 November.

Martyn, thanks for your comprehensive comments.  With respect, though, I suggest you are preaching to the converted regarding the distinction betwen the company and the club? I'm not sure if your reply is directed specifically at my comment, or whether you are using my comment as a starter for your comments?  I would hope the latter, since I have been making the same argument myself, on this forum, regularly in recent years.

 

I have often felt I was ploughing a lonely furrow, explaining this.  For example, that it was not this amorphous collective of history and knowledge and principles and ideas and aspirations that we call "The Club", that was responsible for the serial catastrophes. It was the owning entity, and more specifically its owners.  People screw up.  Or worse.  "The Club", by its nature, cannot.  People come and go.  Boy, don't they just! But "The Club", if under the right stewardship, can be immortal.

 

So I suggest we are actually in entire agreement?

 

I am sure you will have seen, I was endeavouring to refute suggestions that this is just another little local difficulty, and things will shortly carry on as normal.  We both know this time they cannot, regardless of any phoenix that might in due course arise?

 

As it happens, I am also in violent agreement with everything else in your reply.  As I suggest somne others would attest to, from my contributions on here? As far as I am concerned, an owning entity is effectively in a position of stewardship - of trust - for a club.  There are far too many stakeholders, across the community and the wider game and beyond, for it to be the fiefdom of wealthy(ish) individuals.  As, indeed, a very interesting (to me) post earlier about the history of Hunslet so well illustrated? 

 

Some way of separating stewardship and ownership HAS to be found! Otherwise, as you rightly say, this crazy situation will just keep repeating.  Across the game.

 

I have already made my views on the administration process, generally, known.  And, in doing so, speaking with not a little knowledge of the field. I do not believe the process is particualrly fit for purpose in many cases, but most definitely NOT where sports clubs are concerned. The administrator is tasked not with saving something he cannot see and touch, but realising what he can for the creditors.  OK, he is supposed to have regard for trying to save the business as a going concern if possible - not least becuase that usually yields more than liquidation - but his responsibilities are quite clearly laid down by statute. The legislation is NOT written to provide the best outcome for all the stakeholders; just a subset of them.  

 

You say "What I think is important is that we somehow find a way to legally separate the entity of a Rugby League club from the company that happens to own it at any point in time, so that if a company is heading for the financial rocks the club can be removed and given to someone else without the crazy procedure we have seen over the last few months."  Martyn, I could not agree more. But how to do it? 

 

Thinking off the top of my head: you vest "The Club" in some form of trust. Under a general RL umbrella that may or may not be the RFL (how about a new "Rugby League Trust"?) Then an owning entity is given a licence of stewardship of "The Club", by the umbrella body, such licence have specific conditions (applying to all).  As long as the owning entity complies with the conditions (a lot like complying with a lease) then that entity is entitled to full control over its Club. Once the conditions are breached - one such condition obviously being the insolvency - formal or de facto - of the owning entity, then "The Club" reverts immediately back to the umbrella body.  As I said, off the top of my head, but SOMETHING needs to be done?

 

Then, we need some way of encouraging and incentivising decent and responsible owning entities?  Surely it is again a lot like a lease: do what you want provided you comply with the agreement.  Breach, and you lose it. This seems to me a beter solutiuon than my earlier suggestion of a large financial bond from new owners, since it would require no up-front additional bond from them; but they still lose their shirts if they let it become insolvent.  Although, to work, we would need MUCH better financial supervision of clubs than we see now.  I not with interest the administrator's comments about the quality of the management information at the Bulls!

 

And, of course, all this would have to be paid for.  How?  No idea.

 

And yes, it is clear now that liquidation would have been far the best option at inception, not so many weeks later. As long as there were parties ready to step in immediately! But that could never be, given the current legislation and insolvency framework, coupled with the merging of stewardship and ownership. Separate the two, and deprive owner of stewardship on day 1 of formal insolvency, if not before, and you then have the way forward, to stop this fiasco happening again?

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